My Novel Is A Screenplay In Hiding & How Phoebe Waller-Bridge Inspires Me

by Shelt Garner

I’m a very visual person. And I love movies. I love how a good movie — or film for that matter — can become a totem for the era in which it was produced. Movies, with their combination of music, writing, cinematography and acting are artistic time capsules waiting to be discovered by new generations.

As such, the novel I’m developing and writing is pretty much a screenplay hiding inside a novel. I can’t help myself. I reference a lot of music. In fact, music is pretty crucial to understanding the whole thing. And the story (two novels, one story) is jammed packed with scenes that I look forward to writing and I know, given the opportunity, that audiences would crave to see on the big screen.

But the point of this post is the actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge. While, again, my expectations for this novel are painfully low, I do continue to see Ms. Waller-Bridge when I imagine my female romantic lead. She’s the right age and British. The female romantic lead is an amalgam of a number of women who have caught my eye over the years. The biggest inspiration is, of course Alexa Chung, who is, oddly enough, just about Ms. Waller-Bridge’s age.

It’s interesting how much of a struggle I’ve gone through to make my original vision of this novel a reality. My writing ability was sorely lacking when I started this process. But, finally, I feel I’ve pretty much figured out how my doofus hero might be able to snag a woman who is, at least in part, inspired by Ms. Chung.

As I’ve said before, I find it extremely amusing that my female romantic lead has an Asian surname, but — plot twist! — doesn’t look Asian. It’s all very amusing because I could see a lot of Twitter liberals who hadn’t read the book getting extremely angry that a Caucasian would play the character, not knowing that, lulz, she doesn’t even look Asian as described.

But, in general, I’m a big fan of Ms. Waller-Bridge. That girl has creative brass ovaries. She inspires me a great deal because she looks at the audience without blinking and challenges them. My novel, too, pretty much wallows in some very controversial subjects and demands the audience dare to look away.

Or, put another way, that’s what’s going on in my mind as I develop and write the novel. The whole thing is so diffused that, lulz, you probably wouldn’t even notice what the fuck I just said in the actual product. The novel I’m writing is a very breezy, accessible read.

Anyway. Who am I fooling. I can’t even get anyone to read this blog, much less read a novel in the 145,000 to 165,00 word count range. But, like I said, this a novel that has some serious screenplay envy.

Some of the scenes would knock your socks off on the screen!

The Struggle Is Real: Developing My Novel’s Female Romantic Lead #AmWriting

by Shelt Garner

I’m using Alexa Chung’s appearance, public persona (and style) as something of a cheatsheet for my novel’s female romantic lead. In fact, whenever I can’t think of an aspect of the character off the top of my head, I pull up Wikipedia or YouTube and see what Alexa Chung does.

It really helps to have a public figure to inspire you when it comes to such an important character. The character, though, isn’t NOT “based” on her, so much as it is simply influenced and inspired by her. The character is an amalgam of several women I’m fond of, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jennifer Lawrence, Liz Plank, Erin Ryan, Jodi Kantor and the odd woman I’ve dated here and there.

I finally understand what an author means when they say one of their characters is “an amalgam.” I really need to do a formal personality profile of several characters, but I find actually writing the character out in the copy is more in line with my personal needs as a writer.

I will note, however, that my general fondness for developing female characters is making me self-conscious about not having enough MALE characters. But I think I’ve fixed that. I’m going to have to break the rule about only six POV characters to do it, but lulz.

I’m Modeling The Hero Of My #Novel After #ChrisPratt #AmWriting

By Shelt Garner

Let me be clear — I really fucking hate it when people preen about who they think should play this or that character in their “WIP.” I just want to scream at them to shut up and actually write the novel. But, here I am, doing that very same thing.

My only excuse, I guess, is I’m 100% extroverted and I can’t help myself. And, also, I’m not really being aggressive about it. It’s just something to write about while in thinking in the back of my mind about an important first draft scene I’m working on at the moment.

Chris Pratt is who I imagine my hero looking like right now. He’s the right age and fits the phenotype of the inspiration for the hero. It is interesting how men who are in the 40 to 60 age range can play just “the Hero” while the female romantic lead usually has to be played by a far younger woman. I think that says more about Hollywood as an industry and the power male actors accrue as they grow older. (And the fact that the more powerful an actor becomes, the more he seeks out all the younger hot actress to play against so he can bang them.)

What’s interesting is I could see Chris Pratt play my Hero and Jennifer Lawrence play the Female Romantic Lead. (Or maybe Phoebe Waller-Bridge.) Those two have worked together in a movie. I really need to get back to writing the first draft of the novel. But, for some reason, I just feel the need to mention that on this blog that no one reads.

Anyway, like I said, I really fucking hate when other aspiring novelists do exactly what I’m doing. It’s so cloy and preening. It fucking drives me up the wall.

Just write the fucking novel already, people.

Idle Mulling of Phoebe Waller-Bridge & The Female Romantic Lead of The #Novel I’m Developing #AmWriting

by Shelt Garner

I really hate it when people like me talk about who they imagine would play this or that character in their “WIP.” Ugh. It’s just so preening and cloy and fucking annoying.

Pretty much what I imagine my novel’s female romantic lead looking like.

And, yet, here I am, doing that thing I, myself, hate when other people do it.

My only excuse is I’m a drinking and writing and absolutely no one reads this blog (in real terms) so, lulz. The only reason why I keep coming back to this notion that Phoebe Waller-Bridge would be great to play the female romantic lead of this novel is who the character is inspired by — Alexa Chung.

Ms. Waller-Bridge’s phenotype would be perfect to make my vision for the character a reality. She’s also British, which is something I imagine for the character to be. Or, put another way, she’s got a British accent, even if the exact nature of that Commonwealth accent is never fully explained (or at least understood) by everyone else in the novel. In all honesty, the character isn’t even really inspired that much on Alexa Chung as she is by a South African woman I dated briefly in Seoul who had some very endearing verbal ticks. And, yet, the more serious I become with this novel, the less, in real terms, I care about even worrying about Hollywood or any type of adaptation. The point is write the best damn novel (one story, two novels) I can and worry about everything else later.

It’s just so unlikely that I will ever actually sell this novel, all of that seems not only a lot of useless preening, but also a waste of time. But, like I said, I see this blog as more me talking to myself than anything else.

So, lulz.

Jennifer Lawrence & The Quandary Of My Novel’s Female Romantic Lead

by Shelt Garner

I’m operating completely in a vacuum with this novel. I have no idea what I’m doing. But I do have a very specific vision. Part of that vision is I want my female romantic lead (the person closest to the hero and the person he talks to the most) to be inspired by Alexa Chung.

But there’s a little bit of a problem, given how fucked up the world it these days.

Chung doesn’t look “Asian,” despite her surname. Now, in the novel it’s really easy to explain how this happened to my female romantic lead, just like it happened to Alexa Chung. Her dad was three-fourth’s Asian and, as such, she doesn’t have traditional Asian apperence.

But I’m ambitious.

I want this novel to be a pulpy, fast read like Stieg Larsson’s original Millennium series. My novel is meant to be an American answer to his work, but it’s also meant to be something of a guilty pleasure for educated liberal women in the sense that it’s also an allegory for the Trump Era. (Let me be clear, this is all in my head — any actual person with any knowledge of said market would probably laugh at me.)

As such, my dream is for this novel to be adapted into a movie. The perfect person to play the female romantic lead is Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She’s the right age and appearance, everything. But another person who could play the role is Jennifer Lawrence.

One thing to remember is, this is a novel, not a screenplay. I do all this talking about Hollywood stars despite this for no other reason than I need SOME SORT of reference point in constructing characters. Jennifer Lawrence’s is such a huge star and such a great actress that if I win the lottery and my dreams of writing a break out novel come true, the idea that people would bitch about her “not looking Asian” in any move adaptation is really annoying.

Or, you could just say I think too much.

I should be developing, not mentally masturbating about such an unlikely thing.

Liz Plank, Jodi Kantor, Erin Ryan & Some Mulling Of My Novel’s Female Romantic Lead

by Shelt Garner

I have spent a ridiculous amount of time struggling to figure out how my novel’s female romantic lead is. I know her appearance is inspired by Alexa Chung, but it’s taken a lot — A LOT — of struggle to get to the point that I have a character who can be a “Twitter liberal” for the purposes of the plot.

It would help if I, like, actually had friends, huh.

Anyway, I think I may have come up with a character that readers will like. She’s a lot more more a Liz Plank – Erin Ryan character than I expected. Jodi Kantor, while cool and all, just seems a bit more intense and reserved than I need for my purposes. As I’ve said before, if my win-the-lottery dream comes true and I somehow sell this novel and it’s optioned to be a movie, I see someone like Phoebe Waller-Bridge playing the character. At least, that’s who I think about a lot as I develop the character in my mind.

*I* have to want to hang out with this character to write them. Kantor seems like she would be always be quietly judging me for being the doofus that I am. I want someone fun and smart, not scary and smart. (Not to pick on her, but she comes off as rather intimidating to me.)

I’m quite please, like I said, with my female romantic lead. Things are starting to fall into place. I just have to figure out how to give her enough POV screentime so people are willing to see her as real and complex enough.

Though someone called me “both delusional and stupid” for suggesting there are “woke Park Slope Moms,” I do get the sense that these women do exist. I don’t know. No one cares what I do, why can’t I have a little fun to entertain myself by constructing a group of women who probably don’t even exist in any meaningful manner.

A Quirk About The Nature of The Female Romantic Lead of The Novel I’m Developing

by Shelt Garner

I have a lingering celebrity crush on Alexa Chung, so I’ve constructed the female romantic lead of the novel I’m developing who is something of a homage to her. But there’s a problem.

My female romantic lead has an Asian name, but doesn’t LOOK all that Asian, just like Alexa Chung. So, I could see hilarity ensuing as casting directors struggle to find someone who can “pass” for white but is actually Asian. Or, they could cast someone like Jennifer Lawrence or Phoebe Waller-Bridge who would fit the novel’s description of the character, but not be Asian.

It was just my imagination….

At this point, I have to note that the idea that I even sell this novel to a publisher is rather fantastical, so I’m doing little more than mentally masturbating to even broach these things. But I have to psyche myself up to finish the marathon of developing and writing a novel somehow, so this is one of the ways I do it.

Me talking about if Jennifer Lawrence or Phoebe Waller-Bridge was going to play the female romantic lead of a movie adaptation of the novel I’m working on right now is like wondering if I could score a supermodel after having won the lottery.

Anyway, it’s this type of quirk that makes the whole only-a-certain-type-of-person-can-play-a-role seem a bit ludicrous, even though it is, at least in my eyes, totally legitimate.

I am growing closer to getting back to actually writing on this novel, which is pretty cool. But I still have a huge amount of work to do.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, #Hollywood, #JodiKantor & The #Novel I’m Developing & #Writing

Some thoughts.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge & The #Novel I’m Developing & #Writing — I Think We All Know a ‘#Fleabag’

by Shelt Garner

One of the thing I’m really focused on right now is developing character. I have canon and plot, but squat when it comes to character. I am struggling to figure out the motivation of individual characters.

I’ve decided to think back to my time in Seoul’s expat scene in the 2006-2008 time frame. I met a number of pretty colorful people at that time — one of them being myself — and I’m using my extremely romanticized memory of these people as the basis of a number of the novel’s central characters.

One of those central characters is based on a very unique woman I knew in Seoul named Annie Shapiro. She’s tragically dead now, but in life, she dramatically changed my life.

We all know a Fleabag.

Ms. Shapiro was my Fleabag.

In fact, I would go so far as to say if Ms. Waller-Bridge wanted a follow-up to Fleabag, she should do a novel based on the life of Annie Shapiro. The two women kind of look a like, though Shapiro was younger than Waller-Bridge when she died.

Anyway, I’m inspired by what I remember of Shapiro as the basis of my heroine’s character. Shapiro was both my Fleabag and my manic pixie dream girl. So, my heroine is very much in the Fleabag – manic pixie dreamgirl spectrum if you shoved her into a vat of Lisbeth Salander. I like the idea that my heroine, but for events out of her control, would be a focused manic pixie dreamgirl with a very dark side.

The reason why Shapiro was so crucial in my life was she introduced me to a world I would otherwise never have experience. Of course, my actual life in that world was a complete disaster. It was all my fault. But I have all these memories from my time in Seoul that I can tap into.

I’m really focused on character, character, character. I don’t have forever, so I hope to start writing again around May 1st. But I’m going to think a lot in advance of that.

But the key thing is I really find a lot of inspiration in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s honesty with Fleabag.

The ‘Bustle’ Syndrome: The Agony & The Ecstasy Of Being A Male Author Struggling To Write Complex Female Characters

Thinking of you Ms. Ryan.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelt Garner

As you may know, “Bustle” is a Website for women that has a male publisher. In the identity politics era we live in, this has lead to more than a few raised eyebrows. I thought of this after I got into something of a brief rhetorical tussle with Crooked Media star Erin Ryan on Twitter about my person attempt to give her, as a woman reader, complex female characters. She essentially say, “I don’t like your attitude.” But the issue I was trying to convey — it’s unlikely she would even, really, give me a chance if I did develop the type of female characters she demands still stands. I’m a man — a member of the patriarchy — and as such either she wouldn’t read my novel or I would have to work extra hard to prove to her I really was meeting her extremely high demands. I refuse to come to her as a supplicant in search of validation. Either she takes me for who I am as an artist, or doesn’t.

It became clear that her followers were going to rain scorn down on me for not being a sycophant, so I muted the conversation and decided to use the brief encounter as motivation to buckle down on my goal: prove that a man who fits the heteronormative spectrum can, in fact, write women characters for women as part of a tenpole piece of pop art. The issue is, I refuse to be a “soy boy” who fits the feminist narrative. I’m going to be myself –smelly boy attributes and all — and let the chips fall where they may. I really like Ms. Ryan and she’s really is the exact type of person I want to serve with the novel I’m writing. It would be quite an honor if I could do what appears to be the impossible — be both a man and someone who manages to provide a novel with universal truth that she would enjoy the hard work of.

Yass, Queen.

Or, put another way, I want what every artist — male or female — wants: to be accepted for who I am on my own terms because of my art. It’s extremely rare for that to happen. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a recent example of that happening. She has both artistic AND commercial success. In a sense, she’s one of my artistic inspirations since Woody Allen has personal baggage I don’t wish to contemplate. (Wink.)

Anyway, all of this plays into my personal anger about how identity politics makes it more and more difficult to provide an audience universal truth in storytelling. The American Dirt controversy is a prime example of this — apparently only each individual little subgroup has the right to tell their story. Of course, at the same time, when someone like Stephen King is openly dubious of the need to tell non-white male stories, there’s outrage as well. So, damned if you do, damned if you don’t. And there’s an ADDITIONAL outrage if you point out the Catch 22. So, in other words, you pick your poison and expect the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. I want to write a modern tentpole and, as such, I want to give the female audience what they seem to be demanding — honest portrayals of the female experience.

That’s what I’ve been working so hard on for about year now. Whatever the consequences of all that hard work may be, I am prepared for.